August 1, 2007
The Qinghai Lake is an unbelievable experience, you have to go there to understand what I try and tell you. The race is very hard with the long climbs at high altitude and the change in temperature.
Another element that plays a big part in your performance and finishing the race is the food. If you don't get sick you should finish the race. It is very hard when you are really hungry and you just want to eat everything because it looks better then just a plate of rice. Each team always has at least 1 or 2 riders/staff getting sick.
I won't go into great detail about the race, just the things that stand out for me.
Worm got the KOM jersey on Stage 3, he was a happy man and we were all happy for him as well. Then after Stage 4 Lloyd had the Yellow Leaders Jersey, but Worm was unlucky and lost the KOM jersey.
Stage 5, 210km (flat). It was our turn to defend the jersey (2secs to 2nd place). Our plane was to try and let a group go up the road without anyone from the top 10 in it, very hard job! After about 80km of chasing and blocking in the pissing rain a group finally went, then some other teams got on the front and chased it back.
It was all back together for an intermediate sprint (bonus seconds), so we worked hard to keep Lloyd near the front and lead him out, he was well covered by the Italy team (2nd place). He was very unlucky and missed out on the bonus seconds, the Italian got time bonus and now was the virtual leader on the road. We tried again for the final sprint but no success. We had the yellow jersey for one day, now Lloyd was 2 seconds behind.
The next couple of stages were all for the Final GC for Lloyd, everyone in the team had their jobs and did them very well. Lloyd tried some attacks in the final 20km of the stages across the flat sections and even in the long climbs, but he was a well marked man.
It came down to the last stage, 100km (20x5km circuit). Lloyd was still 2 seconds behind and today there where 3xsprints with time bonuses. We had nothing to lose so we worked for the first sprint; it was a solid 5 laps, with so many attacks. All the boys where driving it hard on the front and keeping Lloyd in a good position for the last 500m of the sprint.
We where lucky enough to get some help from another Belgian team, as the Italians had about 2 teams helping them defend the yellow jersey.
We where unlucky in the first sprint but backed up again for the second sprint and Lloyd got a 1 second bonus in a photo finish. We had a go at all the 3 sprints and then pushed it to the limits for the Final sprint finish. It was pretty hard going up against the teams with one goal just to win the stage. He placed 14th on this stage after 3 hard intermediate sprints and an average speed of 50km/h for the stage.
So Lloyd was 2nd in the Final Classification by 1 second. The best thing is the team went down trying on the last day, we put everything into it that day and the whole tour.
It was a very good Tour for the whole team, riders and staff. This has been the best results for the team this year, everyone was happy! Thank you to all that helped out in China. Love your work.
My best purchase in China, Fire Crackers, 200 crackers for $1, brought on the 2nd day. There is something about lighting a cracker and throwing it, it brings much joy after a hard day on the bike.
The next best purchase was at the famous "Silk Markets" in Beijing, I came out of there with 9 watches, 4 of them where "Rolex." The markets has 5 floors a fake shit, it looks good from a distance, just don't wash your clothes much or get the watches wet. If you want a label to fit in with your mates who pay full price this is the best place to get a good look a like on the cheap. Example, I got 4 Rolex watches for $20. My Xmas shopping is done, remember, "It's the thought that counts not the price you pay!"
Now I am back in Booischot, a week taking it very easy to be ready for the Tour of Denmark starting on the 1st August, (5 day tour).
If you go to China, check out the Qinghai Lake region, it is worth it, I can't describe how different the scenery is and the way people live, you have to see it for yourself.
"Shake n Bake"
Kane "Munge" Oakley.